Breast reduction surgery is an outpatient operation that has both function and aesthetic goals. Breast reductions are among the most common procedures performed by plastic surgeons. Breast reduction surgery is commonly performed for improvement in symptoms related to large heavy breasts regardless of age. These symptoms include skin infections, pain, physical inactivity, dissatisfaction with breast appearance, poor sexual well-being, and poor psychosocial well-being. Scientific studies of breast reduction patients have shown that there is a statistically significant improvement in physical and psychosocial well-being after breast reduction surgery. Surveys have indicated that patients are happier with the appearance of their breasts after breast reduction, there was also a marked decrease in the physical symptoms of macromastia (pain in the breast, neck, back, and shoulders; shoulder grooving; difficulty sleeping; difficulty exercising; and rashes).
Breast reduction surgery is performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthsia. Patients are asked to take one week off of work and one month off of exercise. A sports bra is worn during the healing phase for the first month. The scars are typically around the areola down the center of the breast and underneath the breast. They tend to fade in time. Most patients will take pain medication for just a few days. Other procedures such as liposuction or a tummy tuck can be combined at the same time.
Although breast reduction can occasionally be performed as a self-pay procedure, in the vast majority of instances, some type of insurance is used to pay for or help defray the costs associated with breastreduction. As such, many insurance plans have developed a preauthorization process designed to assess the severity of the patient’s condition and determine whether or not breast reductionwould then be indicated. A common thread that applies to many insurance plans relates to documentation of the functional symptoms noted previously. Also, many plans will require what are called “conservative” measures to alleviate the patient’s symptoms, including participation in physical therapy or chiropractic therapy, and a trial of specially fitted support garments. Medical relief of symptoms with a trial of oral analgesics and/or antiinflammatory drugs is also commonly required. Once these preliminary administrative details have been documented, an estimate as to the weight of tissue to be removed is made based on the surgeon’s previous experience. Typically at this point, a chart is then consulted that references the height and weight of the patient, and either the body surface area or the body mass index is calculated.
Complications related to breast reduction mirror those associated with other breast procedures. Issues such as bleeding, infection, fluid buildup, and delayed wound healing happen from time to time. However, there are several complications unique to breast reduction; these include a change in nipple sensation and the ability to lactate. Rarely there can be issues with blood supply to the nipple.